Flyers Cover Statue of Singer Kate Smith amid Racism Allegations

Angelo Anderson
April 20, 2019

Once described as "imperishable emblem of America", Kate Smith has been blacklisted by two major sports teams and her recording of "God Bless America" pulled, on grounds that two of her other 1930s songs were racist and offensive.

The NHL's Philadelphia Flyers have a decades-old tradition of playing Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" on special occasions. Flyers officials said Friday they also plan to remove Smith's "God Bless America" recording from their library.

For nearly two decades, Yankees fans have become accustomed to hearing Kate Smith's 1939 recording of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch.

The Yankees will no longer be using Smith's rendition of the song during the seventh-inning stretch following claims about the singer's 1939 song "That's Why Darkies Were Born".

The Yankees will not play Smith's version of "God Bless America", which they had used during the seventh-inning stretch for 18 years, The Associated Press reported Thursday.


Smith, who died in 1986 at the age of 79, was known as The First Lady of Radio. "And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity", the team said in a statement according to The AP.

Smith's version of the song has been seen as a good luck charm for the Flyers since 1969, when the team began playing it before games.

The other is her 1933 recording, "Pickaninny Heaven", which asks "colored children" living in an orphanage to dream about a magical place "great big watermelons". Smith is well-known for singing the song before Flyers games in the 1970's. What's the problem? Smith recorded a song in 1931 called "That's Why Darkies Were Born".

Philadelphia has not announced if it will use a replacement version of "God Bless America'". "That's Why Darkies Were Born" was recorded with African-American actor, singer, and activist Paul Robeson, and according to the Daily News, was considered to be satire at the time. The team has played the song in the middle of every game since September 11, 2001. Both songs, per the report, contain racist language and references to racial stereotypes.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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